Kenya should have a new central bank governor in place by the end of May, replacing Njuguna Ndung'u who stepped down this month after eight years in office, a top official involved in the selection said.
Seven out of 10 economists polled by Reuters this month expect the top job to go to Haron Sirima, the deputy governor who is currently acting governor.
Margaret Kobia, chair of the Public Service Commission and of the selection committee for the appointment, said the committee would submit a shortlist of three candidates to President Uhuru Kenyatta by mid-April. His choice would need to be approved by parliament.
"When he takes it to parliament ... it may take another month," Kobia told Reuters, suggesting the process of parliamentary grilling and approval would be complete by the end of May.
Kenyatta's Jubilee coalition has a majority in parliament, so his nominee is unlikely to face hurdles, analysts said.
Ndung'u stepped down on March 3 after serving the maximum of two four-year terms.
The deadline for applications for the post is March 24.
This is the first time the central banker will be chosen through open competition. Previous chiefs were named by the president without a formal application process. Kobia said the aim was to make sure the new governor was well-known and respected.
"When the three names are submitted, nobody in Kenya should be asking 'who is that person?' That person should be one whose track record is already known, that is how I see it," she said.
Sirima is seen as a safe choice who would maintain the bank's policy on price and exchange rate stability, analysts said.